This morning I am in New Orleans waiting for my 17 year old to emerge from his restaurant and illness induced chrysalis. William is here looking at Tulane, Jeanne is here studying endocrinology (which specializes, you'll be happy to know, in the endocrine system) and I'm still moping over my BMI which places me comfortably in the obese range. How can I be obese when I swim 7/10 of a mile three or four times a week? Quite comforably actually. I have lost nearly 12 pounds in the last year or so. Or maybe it's two, years that is. I don't know. Losing weight is hard and eating and drinking in NOLA is easy.
I'm not going to comment on Tulane because I don't want to prejudice William's judgment one way or the other, but one thing I can say is that it was hot. Not by NOLA standards, just maybe 88 degrees and about 104 percent humidity. Everybody was sweating and nobody seemed to mind, except me. They really need to divide these tours into two parts, one for the kids and one for the parents. The parents can sit in the A/C and discuss colleges or watch some produced video while the kids go out and look at dorm rooms or whatever. Tulane we're interested in because they give out a lot of merit money, at least that's why I'm interested. In the Northeast they give out money only to those who are poor, no matter how smart. But in the great Southeast, they take a different view. So by God, we are looking a the great Southeast.
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Well, Denali finally had to be put to sleep. It was sad, more sad than I can say. He was such a great, smelly, lame, censorious, playful, grand old dog. On his last day, he had given up trying to stand up. In addition to his other problems, he had a great tumor on his lower back; perhaps cancer. He couldn't be lured out of his crate, even with donuts. The day before, he at least tried to get to his maybe 1 3/4 good leg total, if you see what I mean. His mind was still intact, as much as it ever was. He might have been in pain, but didn't show it. But dogs are stoic.
Most of the evidence of his presence has been removed. The house smells better already. But there was a great, liquidy mound in the side 'yard', his last evidence of great labor. I meant to tell Jeanne to leave it there as a kind of memorial. But she cleaned it up before I could speak. I would have planted something on it. A rose perhaps.
We buried Denali in the Octopus Hole. This was one of those excavations our kids made when they were little. Suddenly no one wants to play in the Octopus Hole anymore. So I cleared out the pine needles, then dug down another foot. Poor dead Denali was more than asleep now. He was limp, almost impossible to pick up. The vet was great; everybody was sad to see him go. I nestled him in his hole inside a favorite blanket. I told him I'd see him later, but he was already gone, perhaps in a kind of sleep. I covered him with what I wasn't sure was enough dirt and rocks to block any odor from escaping, but as of two days later there's no smell except the sweet, nutty, dusty odor of pine trees in the morning sun. It's a nice spot. If you miss me, I'm probably there.
I reckon my heart is half broken. Completely broken would be if I lost Jeanne or a child. With a beloved dog, you can go on, philosophically, as long as you don't think too much about it. Denali was old, 13 and a half, so I keep telling myself. His adopted sister, Biscuit, is still around, as is Jeanne's new Bichon. A ratdog, but lovable. As I write this, Biscuit is recovering from a snake bite. I just have to hope she will endure -- she has before. So anyway, it's not that there aren't dogs in the house. But there will never be another Denali. He and I saw eye to eye on so many things. We loved to swim together and I forget he won't be getting in the pool anymore. I miss lifting him out of the pool, a big, heavy, furry, smelly, wet burden in my arms that made my heart full.